Human rights organisations branded subversive

Zimbabwean democracy and human rights non-governmental organisations (NGOs) fear they face a mounting threat as the military junta attempts to clamp down on dissenting voices in the lead-in to the presidential election run-off.

Representatives of the NGOs, which act as watchdogs of democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe, say they are increasingly being portrayed as subversive elements and anti-government by regime officials and the state-owned news media.

Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, National Director of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), said: ZESN continues to receive distressing reports on observers being attacked. As the retribution attacks continue throughout the country with disturbing reports of alleged abductions, torture and subsequent murders of political activists since the announcement of the presidential election results, ZESN is alarmed with the continued attacks targeted at domestic observers a few weeks before the critical second election.

The NGO, which has been accused of working with the MDC, has come under fire from the junta for alleging state involvement in political violence in the aftermath of the general election and for conducting a parallel voter tabulation process that revealed defeat for Mugabe.

Mugabe’s chief election agent, Emmerson Mnangagwa, warned that the government would crack down on NGOs involved in subversive activities and that were actively involved in undermining the nation’s internal security, including those who allegedly used food to campaign for the MDC. Mnangagwa blamed ZESN for Mugabe’s loss.

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